Is That All?

Nats on 62 per cent! Yawn…Of course they are – they’re not a political party but a faith-based movement – the Scottish branch of the Moonies. The Moanies, maybe.

It’s crazy of course, not normal, and needs an unconventional explanation. I know, let’s not bother analysing it, let’s just say they’re all nuts. Oh, and by the way so is Jeremy Corbyn. A stark, raving mad, sultana-laden fruitcake. Must be…eh?

Well the TNS survey does find that the satisfaction figures for key policy areas don’t appear to back up the headline hero worship. If you’re determined to vote for them next May, you’d expect more than a quarter to a third of people to think they’re doing a good job. That must mean they’re not judged on normal criteria, like George Clooney being assessed on acting ability rather than matinee looks.

Or does it? Look at the number who don’t know, don’t have a view or, as Professor Curtice might say, can’t be arsed. More people Don’t Bloody Know than have a view on three out of four policy areas with the finding for the NHS scoring one point higher.

It may not be a ringing endorsement but it seems to me folk not bothering to have a view isn’t much of a concern for the SNP. Voters asked: Are they doing OK on crime? and basically shrugging their shoulders while mumbling ‘suppose so, aye, but no, but’ hardly represents an anti-Nationalist insurgency. Giving a Don’t Know option on such a broad question is like giving a jury a Not Proven verdict to consider…an easy Out.

Ask me, Derek Bateman Voter, if I think the SNP are doing a good job on Health for example and my rant would be…Generally, I think they probably are doing okay and certainly as well as the other lot did and since they’re now so dismal they have no chance of changing anything anyway, right? And while I’d like to see more money going in, where’s it going to come from as budgets are cut? I like having one of the world’s newest and fanciest hospitals just across the river built on time without my grandkids paying for it but I know there are always administration problems and parts of the NHS aren’t brilliant and I do see lots of media reports that are negative and it must be depressing for staff who are already under pressure and God knows what it does to the poor folk actually in for treatment or about to go in and hearing how God-awful it is. Draws breath.

I could more easily just say: ‘Don’t know, mate…I’ve no really thought about it.’

What does appear to be true is that many of those same procrastinators are prepared to back the SNP regardless, presumably because they think that overall and including the specific areas covered, they best represent themselves and the country – a priceless asset once coveted and carefully burnished by Labour. In fact is it so different from a Labour Party which breached its compact with the people over financial regulation, cheap loans and mortgages, union rights and that bloody war and yet still had every single MP returned in Scotland only five years ago with its vote share increased. That was blind faith and loathing of the Tory enemy every bit as much as today’s finding (which still hasn’t been turned into a single vote let alone a seat). So this huge wave of seemingly inexplicable support isn’t totally unique. It’s just happened kind of quickly and overwhelmed us for the time being.

Check those who think the Nats are not doing a good job…the numbers are between 19 and 29 per cent. Yet that is less than the remaining combined non-SNP vote recorded in the poll (38 per cent). That presumably means that a lot of anti-SNP types or Don’t Knows nevertheless are giving the SNP the nod of approval for governance.

Of course if you’re Labour or one of the declining Tories or a Lib Dem Do-do, the wee qualifications about performance in office are sheer bloody luxuries only to be dreamed of. How does it feel to imagine yourself sitting in a chamber where there could be 78 Nats and up to 10 pro-indy Greens…time for counselling.

The Sturgeon manifesto could add another layer of misery to a Labour Party now being buffeted by acrimony over the southern leadership and even propagandists like Brian Wilson are telling them how crap they are. Did I mention council by-elections? We may soon, as Professor Hassan keeps saying, have to be kind to Labour and to No voters or they may vacate the scene altogether – and then what would we do?

We are engulfed in a perfect storm now – threadbare opposition, a powerful, articulate SNP in government here while the real battle looms in the south where they are of course simultaneously in opposition fighting a vicious Tory administration planning to downgrade Scots MPs. This is a Nationalist dream script combining (executive) power with (justifiable) grievance against a backdrop of relentless support. If it all goes wrong, someone wake me up.

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It’s Peace, Man

OK, news editor. What do you lead with today? Interest rates held? More police forces investigate Ted Heath? Police Scotland in spying trouble?

The answer, if I was the overweight slob with the flat sausage sandwich sitting feet up on the desk, would be none of the above. This is the anniversary of the most terrifying single act of war perpetrated in human history – the nuclear bomb bursts over Japan. Those same weapons that flattened cities, obliterated human life and caused horrific injuries and defects for generations are still the arms of choice for civilised, democratic Britain – our country – and have their submarine base and warhead store on Scottish soil – our soil.


Isn’t that the story not only of today but of our age? What does it say of us, humankind, that 70 years later we still defend ourselves with weapons of unimaginable devastating capability? It’s only 18 years since a Labour government was elected with a promise to start a process of reduction along with other countries leading to their global eradication. It didn’t satisfy those of us who believed that with the super powers armed to the hilt an act of unilateral disarmament by a (global) power with a seat on the Security Council would have been a gesture of enormous significance deserving of a Nobel Prize for the instigator. That same national leader was instead to gain eternal notoriety for an intervention of a contrary kind. But it was, like rail nationalisation and minimum wage, iconic of the Britain we envisaged under Blair.

To find years later that Labour is now more committed than ever to retaining a so-called deterrent and upgrading it at a cost of anything up to £100bn is to realise how far the party has fallen from leader of progressive politics into right-wing shadow of radicalism.

What a day to declare in the middle of a leadership contest that all those who would lead the party are now committed to abolition of Trident. Wouldn’t that be a step towards reclaiming some of the vast acres lost in credibility and progressive humanity? What a day to start a campaign by activists to influence the candidates on this quintessential issue of our age.

So what is the Scottish Labour leadership tweeting? Blair McDougall, who who led the rancid No campaign and destroyed his own party, demands to know why SNP MSPs are ‘ silent’ on Labour’s motion for answers about police spying on journalists (if they did).

You’ll notice it isn’t the human rights issue or excessive police power that interests the party spokesman –that might imply principle. No, it’s the SNP that is the target. How we run justice and society generally to safeguard citizens isn’t the stuff of today’s Labour – it’s the ‘silence’ of SNP MSPs. Like Kezia’s juvenile tweet about student exam passes, this is the scrapings of student politics that so afflicts the upper echelons of a once-moral party.

(I’m not sure either what Labour is getting at. Do they think ministers instigated an illegal wiretap for the police? Are they suggesting ministers knew but turned a blind eye? ‘Aye, on youse go, Stephen. If you want to break the rules and spy on reporters, we don’t care.’ Or is it another attempt to rope them into some obscure blame game – Labour having nothing else to fight with?)

In this regard try Paul  Cairney’s thoughtful piece here which mirrors what I was writing the other day about the pitiful attempts to say hospital management is a minister’s responsibility, not the dozens of administrators whose job it is or the health board who oversee them. This chicanery is a particular favourite not only of Labour apparatchiks but of our beloved media hacks whose Jackanory grasp of how government works is like watching a five-year-old thread a needle – tongue out.

If Police Scotland has illegally spied on respectable journalists, it is a scandal that will blight its reputation for ever. If it was done against the rules, Stephen House must be sacked – no wheedling wait for his planned departure – but ousted in ignominy. If any minister is implicated directly in authorising or knowing and hiding this activity, he/she is political toast and follows House out of the door.

But can we please stop the sanctimonious posturing by Labour grovellers with their wee boy pointy fingers desperate for any smear that might just stick. McDougall must be the mangiest and most flatulent attack dog still ripping off the Labour Party. Let’s recall how Labour in power treated justice in just one documented instance, shall we?

A major criminal investigation into alleged corruption by the arms company BAE Systems and its executives was stopped in its tracks yesterday when the prime minister claimed it would endanger Britain’s security if the inquiry was allowed to continue.

The remarkable intervention was announced by the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, who took the decision to end the Serious Fraud Office inquiry into alleged bribes paid by the company to Saudi officials, after consulting cabinet colleagues.

In recent weeks, BAE and the Saudi embassy had frantically lobbied the government for the long-running investigation to be discontinued, with the company insisting it was poised to lose another lucrative Saudi contract if it was allowed to go on. Read the full story here

Yeah, police spying on journalists is unacceptable but calling off the police to allow bribes to the Saudis so we can sell them weapons of war – that’s just politics, right?

Labour enmeshed in the arms trade and wallowing in weapons of mass destruction. Isn’t that where we came in?

One of the things I’m most proud of about the SNP and Yes is total opposition to nuclear arms. And every Labour voter knows they should do the same…except they can’t because then they couldn’t weasel another SNP Bad/SNP Blame line out of it, could they? Peace, brothers.

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Another One Bites theDust

Remember how they told us we couldn’t police our own borders and that immigrants and terrorists would flood in? Thrill to the memory of Better Together warning we couldn’t cope without the British Border Agency. Shiver with excitement at the thought of illegal immigrants streaming into unmanned Scottish ports and running up the beaches. And worse – some of them would make their way into England… Thank God we avoided that catastrophe, eh? Otherwise there might be hordes of illegals massing on the frontier, jumping on to lorries and risking their lives to seek a new home in the land that is so clever it makes Michelle Mone a legislator.

So many of Blair McDougall’s sensible warnings have come true. Nearly a year on not a single bank has threatened to leave Britain. Well, if you exclude HSBC, the country’s biggest bank, currently eyeing a move to Hong Kong. Oh, and Deutsche Bank is planning to do the same if the UK leaves the EU. And so are American banks who think Ireland is a better option. But, hey there’s still good old RBS whose future is secure, if you don’t count the Treasury selling it off at a loss.

And how accurate was the prediction of security within a strong economy where resources are pooled and risks shared. It’s pretty clear now that resources ARE pulled rather than pooled – to London and the south-east and that risks ARE shared by anyone on disability benefits or in-work support. Still, the government has respected their promise to deliver substantial and extensive devolution and the Scotland Bill with no amendments looks just like federalism, doesn’t it? Meantime a vacuous self-publicist is ‘elevated’ to the Second Chamber along with the shadowy figure who devised the poll tax (the dearth of elected MPs is a bit of a nuisance) while one of Labour’s finest becomes a Harry Enfield sketch bitching about national politics with two hookers while snorting coke from their bosoms as he wears their bra.

Take a bow, No voters.

And if you’re a Labour No voter who jeered at the Nats and hugged your Tory campaign pals when the chance to break free was lost, know that you’ll always have a special place in the memory of the nation – for wilfully robbing us of national dignity and progressive politics and as a bonus extra, destroyed your own party.

I think Nicola wants the rest of us to put a hand out and say Never mind –these things happen. She has to govern for all of Scotland and can only allow her frustrations to emerge in hot debate – all aimed at political opponents. Meantime the game is about waiting, waiting for the right moment to move and that sure ain’t anytime soon. I am patient because I’ve been waiting all my life and can wait longer, knowing that if it doesn’t come, I go to the grave believing. And instead of watching a dream drift off to a far horizon, today, because of Tory ineptitude I can’t just imagine independence, I can smell it. I don’t want to start a storm of controversy in the BBC Scotland newsroom but I believe a second referendum is inevitable and will come within 20 years, perhaps surprisingly quickly. The point is that when the time is right, we will know. The error is to be restless to move too soon.

But is it the right approach to pretend nobody was hurt by last year’s vote and swallow our feelings as if voting against your own country’s independence was a normal and forgivable act? Andrew Wilson, for example writes at the weekend… ‘Above all else, stay positive, respectful of opponents’ views and persuade gently rather than with disbelieving rancour…’ (Not sure exactly how this sentiment ties in with his support for his colleague and Daily Mail vituperation exponent Chris Deerin who comes across as Scotland’s very own Alan B’stard)

Still, you can see the logic of not blaming No voters for the mess we’re in now, denying our kids their deserved future and consigning another generation to a penurious lifestyle, can’t you? We win them over by offering them the hand of friendship. Trouble is, I want to strangle them. And isn’t that the truth…every time you see pipsqueak Mundell ‘speaking for the nation’ or motormouth Murray pretending he voted against when he abstained or intellectual crook Carmichael bluffing it out…don’t you want to scream at the fearties and the disparaging Britnats who voted against Scotland as their nation of choice? I bloody do.

I always distinguish between an individual as a human being and his political personality so that I can argue with the latter while respecting or liking the former. (This theory is tested sorely with Brian Wilson) But is it humanly possible or even reasonable to put this sense of betrayal to one side and carry on as if nothing had changed? Politics, like a car, needs a motor and reaction is the spark plug, so you react (to the thought perhaps of policy designed to impoverish children) and you channel that emotion into politics. How can there not be a sense of grievance when increased poverty and social division are the driving force of UK politics – a politics we could have avoided but the majority chose to embrace. Somebody should have a word with those desperate folk at Calais jumping at trucks and tell them the truth about this unprincipled country.

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